Way back in the mid 1990s, the computer game magazines were full of whole page advertisements in the back of the book for a 3D Dos game called Cylindrix. It wasn’t necessarily a visual marvel, but it was an intuitive game and one of the first real 3D experiences in Dos.

Cylindrix was coded to run in Dos DJGPP Protected Mode so that it could address more than 640 KB of memory, something that the Dos programmers felt was impossible at one point in history.

I had an original copy on 3.5″ diskettes that I sold on eBay for over $100 about eight years ago. I actually wish I held onto it, because it’s a museum piece. But I still have my two-disk demo.

So what is Cylindrix?

Cylindrix is a fast-paced battle game set in a round cylinder. To play the game, you use teamwork and fast reflexes to tap the enemy pylons scattered around the map. Tapping the pylons turns them to your team’s color. The more pylons you have on your side, the most powerful your hover tank’s (did we mention you’re in a hover tank?) weapons become. You’ll find yourself constantly struggling to maintain a favorable pylon count, or your enemies will gain the upper hand.

You play the commander and you have to assign each of your wingman tanks a task like “Get Pylons” or “Attack Enemy Ships.” Knowing which commands to issue and when to issue them is the key to winning the game.

One of the game’s developers, John R. McCawley, obtained permission to license out the game for free. He’s also working on Windows and Linux ports of the game.

Definitely try his new versions, because his team completely rebuilt the game from scratch.

You will absolutely need DOSBox for my version, or it ain’t gonna work.

From the game’s readme.txt file
The playing field

THE CYLINDRIX. This is the playing field in which the game takes place. Your vehicle can either skim along its surface or detach from the surface and fly freely within the Cylindrix. Each end of the Cylindrix is capped with a force shield preventing you from escaping combat.

All of the cylinders are the same size, but the various lighting conditions will make some feel smaller or larger than others. Each square on the surface of the cylinder is 40′ x 40′.

A cylinder’s measurements are: Height: 382 feet high, or approximately 27 stories high Length: 1200 feet, or 87 stories long

Square foot area: 1,440,000
Total cubic feet: 137,000,000

Pylon: Average height, 7 stories
Radar Base: 45 feet high

PYLONS. Towers of energy called pylons jut from the surface of the Cylindrix. When your vehicle collides with a pylon, the pylon becomes charged to the polarity of your team, turning it whatever color your vehicles are. As a result, your teams weapons will do more damage. Capturing pylons is of extreme importance.

RADAR BASES. Each team has a radar base somewhere on the surface of the Cylindrix. The radar bases will fire relentlessly at any enemy vehicles in range. The radar bases control the homing of energy missiles, and update each vehicle’s radar display. If your radar base is destroyed you lose both of these.

ENERGY SQUARE. Each Cylindrix has on its surface an energy square. If you move your vehicle over the square its shields will be recharged.

Each of the eight ships has a uniquely designed Heads Up Display, but they all display the same information.

ON SCREEN RADAR DISPLAY. This is an actual 3D display of the cylinder and always moves in relation to your view of the cylinder. Your ship is represented by the white square that is at the bottom of the
cylinder when you are on the ground and when you are in the air the white dot will move in relation to the cylinder. The blue squares represent the blue team, the red squares represent the red team.
Any time your radar locks onto a ship, the square representing that ship will have a yellow box around it. If your radar base is destroyed, your radar disappears.

CROSS HAIRS AND RADAR LOCKING. These cross hairs allow for the aiming of lasers by eye or missiles when your radar is inoperable. When you lock radar on an opponent, a diamond shape will appear between the radar lock box, and your ship. When the cross hairs, the radar lock box, and the diamond are all lined up, then you are facing the enemy directly.

SHIELD STRENGTH DISPLAY. The shield strength level is indicated by the bar on the screen with the ‘S’ on it. Every time your force shield is hit with a laser or a missile it is weakened. If your vehicle is
shot after your energy shield has been depleted, it will be destroyed. There is a brightly colored square on the cylinder’s surface, called the Energy Square. If you move your vehicle on top of it while on the surface, your shield’s strength will recharge.

MISSILE DISPLAY. The number of missiles you hold is displayed here. Missiles regenerate automatically.

WEAPON DAMAGE DISPLAY. The relative amount of damage you are able to do, the number energized pylons you have tagged on the Cylindrix surface (see “The Playing Field” above) is indicated on the bar on the screen with the “D” next to it.

Every time you give a command to your wingman, it is displayed here.

The shield strength of your two wingman is displayed here.


NOTE: Cylindrix allows the reassigning of keys, but the default settings are as follows.

“s” Take Off and Land
“v” Change viewpoint, in or out of ship.
“Esc” Pauses game and brings up an options menu.

Up arrow Move forward
Down arrow Move backwards
Right arrow Rotate right
Left arrow Rotate left
“Alt” Sidestep Right or Left using arrow key (Strafe).

“a” Throttle Faster
“z” Throttle Slower
Up arrow Nose down
Down arrow Nose up
Right arrow Rotate right (Clockwise).
Left arrow Rotate left (Counterclockwise).
“Alt” + arrow key Step Up, Down, Right, or Left (Strafe).

“Ctrl” Fire laser
Space Fire energy missile
“x” Engage Special Weapon

W 1 W 2
F1 F7 Get Pylons
F2 F8 Attack
F3 F9 Attack Enemy Radar Base
F4 F10 Defend Home Radar Base
F5 F11 Group – Surround and Defend
F6 F12 Orders Canceled

Ye Olde System Requirements

  • 486/66 DX (SX will not work)
  • Soundblaster compatible sound card
  • Double speed (2x) CD Rom Drive
  • 10MB of HD Space
  • 8MB of RAM

About The Author

John Guilfoil is the editor-in-chief of Blast: Boston's Online Magazine and the Blast Magazine Network. He can be reached at [email protected]. Tweet @johnguilfoil.

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